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Woman offers reward for information on missing tortoise

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Submitted Photo 100-pound Sulcata Tortoise, Dusty, who went missing Saturday

A 100-pound Sulcata Tortoise has not been seen by its owner since Saturday and a reward of $500 is being offered for information that leads to its safe return.

Roswell Police, Roswell Animal Control and the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office have been notified, Angel Mjelleli, the tortoise’s owner said Tuesday.

Mjelleli from Clovis said she has had Dusty — an 18-year-old tortoise — since he was a hatchling and is worried he could freeze or get hurt, stolen or attacked by another animal.

Submitted Photo
Angel Mjelleli with her 100-pound Sulcata Tortoise, Dusty, who went missing Saturday after escaping from a yard on Ranchito Drive on the outskirts of Roswell. Mjelleli is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to his safe return.

Dusty had been staying at the home of Shana Emmert — Mjelleli’s aunt — at the 4000 block of Ranchito Drive. He escaped after a gust of wind blew open the gate. Emmert said she realized he was gone at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Neighbors who previously did not know she had been keeping a tortoise in her yard told Emmert they had seen a tortoise hours before.

Mjelleli said Dusty was last seen by a neighbor in the vicinity of North Atkinson Avenue and Corralito Drive — about a block from Emmert’s house — and heading toward Berrendo Creek. No sightings of him have since been reported.

The creek was searched by Mjelleli, but there were no holes or tracks to indicate he had been there.

Sulcata Tortoises do not hibernate but burrow and seek shelter in the ground when they are cold, Mjelleli said. He might also have sought refuge in a barn or shed. When it is 50 degrees or warmer, though, he can be seen walking around.

Dusty is docile and friendly, although he is strong and has the ability to break through fences and barriers. If anyone sees Dusty, they should contain him in an enclosed space that is kept warm, Mjelleli said. Dusty should be fed small animal hay, pellets, grass or weeds.

To receive the award, Dusty must be alive and kept warm. Mjelleli said that either she or Emmert can come right away to claim him.

People can contact Mjelleli at 915-491-8820 or Emmert at 915-549-7575.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.